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Many obstetricians will not allow you to give birth vaginally to a breech baby; they will do a cesarean-section. Obstetricians are fearful, and rightly so, that the baby’s head could get stuck coming out of the birth canal if the head comes out last. In a normal vaginal birth, the top of the baby’s head protects the baby as it moves down the birth canal. It also opens the birth canal wide enough to let the shoulders pass through and then the rest of the body. If you find that you are pregnant with a breech baby and want to give birth vaginally instead of having a cesarean there is a procedure where your doctor turns the baby around from the outside. This procedure is called an external version and it works!

The external version procedure must be done in the later part of your eighth month of pregnancy. If you turn the baby around earlier than this, then the baby will most likely turn back around because it is small enough to do so. Most doctors will do the external version as an outpatient procedure in a hospital. You will need to be hooked up to an IV as a precaution in case moving the baby around causes you to go into labor, another reason to wait until you are well into your eighth month of pregnancy.

The doctor will give you a drug to relax your uterus. Then, the doctor will use an ultrasound to view the baby and see where the cord placement is. A nurse will continue ultrasounding while the doctor turns the baby around, to make sure the cord is out of the way and that the baby is all right. The doctor then turns the baby by pushing on the outside of your stomach with both hands. There is absolutely no pain involved with this procedure, to you or the baby. The doctor will keep her hand on your lower abdomen, where the baby's head is now, to keep it in place. You will stay in the hospital for about 2 hours to assure the baby stays head down. You will be released from the hospital to wait out the rest of your pregnancy as normal.

Eighty percent of the baby’s that are turned through external version remain head down. I highly recommend this procedure for anyone who is pregnant with a breech baby and wants to avoid a cesarean. It is well worth it!